[ Free Me From This Bond: Chapter 13 ]
I must apologize to you, my Sweet & Patient Readers, for a promise I failed to fulfill in Chapter 8 (Dragon Prophecy). Which was to reveal why I was absolutely convinced that Arwyn and yours truly would be married in Dolores Park on Easter Sunday, by the honorable Sisters. You will have your answer shortly. Read on:
You’ll remember that night of Easter Sunday, I told my wonderful Parable of the Dollar-Store Bandana to equally-wonderful Allen of the dual clam-shell jewelry display on 18th Street. It was 10pm or so when I returned to my stuffy Hobbit hovel, to relish some of Allen’s superb hashish, and ponder the wonders of that day. Little did I know the greatest wonder had yet to manifest. It was a phone call:
“Aaargh girlfriend! Let’s talk, you wreck of Mother Nature!”
“Arwyn! OMG, this is our very first phone call.”
“Ha!” he seemed to be stifling a more ribald guffaw.
“Okay, Sweetness, I…I…don’t get it.”
“This is not our first phone call. For you, perhaps, in a very personal way. But this is not our first phone call. Listen to me, and be careful not to hang up; you’ve done that before. And I know you don’t understand what I’m talking about right now, but pleas…”
I interject: “Oh ho ho ho. Alright. You’ve always been my greatest mystery, Mr. Miles. Now you have just added one more intrigue to The List. Care to explain, or do I have to figure this one out myself, as usual?”
“Zeke! I really love you. Do you love me? It’s nice to hear that now and then.” Arwyn sounds a bit choked up, like maybe some tears are spilling onto his knuckles as he grips the phone tightly in a trembling hand.
“Arwyn, how many times do I say I love you, whenever we’re together?” Which is far less than I would like of course…we still live apart. “I’m always more than happy to sing my heart to you, Dearest Little Chipmunk. I love you, I love you, I love you. I don’t understand you, I don’t understand you, I don’t understand you.”
“I know,” sighs Arwyn. “I’ve been through this before with you, and it’s Heartbreak Hotel each and every time. Promise me you won’t hang up.”
A cold shiver rides up my spine; I’m a little scared. Maybe I should hang up? My heart sinks: “Okay.”
Divine Reader: before I continue with this tale, you need to know that Arwyn sometimes enjoys calling me “Gene” as well as “Zeke.” That is because I changed my name in 1996 from “Eugene Catalano” to “Ezekiel Krahlin”. Proof of my name change can be viewed here: tinyurl.com/gene-to-zeke
“That’s why I called, Gene. I know you went to the park today, expecting us to get married. We are telepathic you know, but much more so in my case. And there’s a really good reason for that, which I will explain for, oh, maybe the tenth time in the past two years. And as far as phone calls go, I’ve lost count…but I’m sure we’ve called each other dozens of times by now, maybe even over a hundred.”
“Wow. Just when I thought the day’s excitement was long over, you pull this squirrel out of the hat! Eenie meanie, chili beanie, the spirits are about to speak! I will always love you Arwyn. That is carved in Moses’ own tablet; it is the 12th Commandment.” [ Dearest Reader: I’ve already established some other commandment for the 11th, in a tale I wrote titled “Parable of the Laptop Billionaire“. So this one must be the 12th. Sorry for the confusion. ]
“Awww, Zekie-Genie-doodle, you have such a fabulous way with words!”
“Only because you bring out the absolute BEST in me, My Dragon Warrior of the Light. I PROMISE to not hang up. Do go on. Please. PLEASE. Do go on.”
Arwyn takes a deep breath. “Alright. You have memory issues…”
“Guess I forgot.” I am the King of Jokes in Bad Taste.
“Okay, Spaghetti Brains, I’ll let you get away with that one, but no more,” says Arwyn who is so very dear to my heart, I can’t begin to explain. “Your memory has blank spots that fade in and out, and cover a span of several years.”
I brace myself. I’m very scared right now, and wonder if my love for Arwyn is misdirected; perhaps he’s not as nice a person as I wish; and maybe I really should hang up. But I made my promise, and put my faith in love.
“Are you still there, Testicle Breath?”
I almost fall off my swivel chair in hilarity: that’s my Arwyn, and I sure as hell won’t hang up. “Yes, muthuh fukkuh, I’m right here for you, ALWAYS. Dish me the dope.”
There is no answer; I wait to see if maybe the phone line went dead. A flash of terror sweeps through me and vanishes. No, Arwyn is still there, I can hear him stifle a sob. He finally speaks:
“First thing’s first, Zeke,” he states with deliberate force (and slowly) the following four, transcendent words: “We. Are. Already. Married.”
Happiness thrills me to the marrow, to discover we’re betrothed. I shiver with joy. Then just as suddenly, this sweet reverie vanishes. I choose my next words with care:
“Oh you darling hunk of super-gorgeous, how could I ever forget something so wonderful as marrying a Fierce and Righteous Dragon like yourself? If you’re pulling my tail, please speak up now, or forever hold your pizza!” (I mean, what sort of accident or illness could cause such a powerful loss of memory, that the most important event of your life is wiped out like sand dollars at high tide? OMFG, I truly hope it’s not Alzheimer’s!)
My hand starts to shake violently (I have carpal tunnel), and I drop the receiver. Tears cloud my vision as I fumble to collect it. I suddenly feel terribly alone, as if Arwyn were ripped from my heart, forever. But we are still connected; I hear his glorious breath, waiting for me to resume:
“Alright, first thing’s first as you say, so first let me say this: I am so happy to be married to such an outstanding human being, My Beloved Arwyn Miles. No question I am the happiest man in the entire cosmos, all because of you, My Darling Draco.”
“You make me blush, Genie.”
“And that is such a sweet gift to me, that you do!” My larynx is clogged with hesitation, as the next question arises in my throat:
“Why are my memory banks on the fritz; and am I getting better, I hope?”
“Much better, you’re actually out of the woods and in the last stage of total recovery,” he iterates, as if reciting from a script, well rehearsed. “You were dosed. You were badly dosed five years ago, and almost died. You were on life support for eight-and-a-half months.”
There is nothing in my memory banks to affirm his claim, but I do recall another crisis around that same time:
“Does this have something to do with my slipping a note to you under the wrong door,” I ponder with furrowed brow, “where I remarked that you sure hang out with some nasty scum; they’re dangerous and you should find a way out? And that note fell into the wrong hands, and a big fight broke out at Hole in the Wall…and a week later your room burned down, and you were nowhere to be found, for months? I was so scared you might be homeless…or worse.”
“Very good, Sparky, your memory cells are busting through like a champ. This is the first time you remember that nasty little episode since dosage.” Arwyn clears his throat, and continues: “You will very soon start to recall all sorts of things as your memory gaps continue to fade. But some of your recollections will be scary. By which time I’ll stay by your side, to walk you through that dark forest, and into a glorious and eternal life with me, Your Guardian Dragon.”
“Quite a tall order, Oh Belov-ed Draco Who Makes All Good Dreams Come True! Then again, you are quite a tall drink of fizz-pop.” I laugh a bit, then wonder: “I had an awful dream a few nights ago. Could this be one of these scary memories welling up?”
“We’ll see, My Love. Tell me about it. I’m here for you, always.”
So I take a deep breath, before commencing the recollection:
I was strapped down to a dirty, old splintery oak table with thick leather cord. The location was some dark, dank cellar, with an icy chill that oozed a cold sweat from the concrete walls. I could hear rumbling almost over my head, like a train roaring by every 12 minutes or so. I could feel the vibration as they passed. The hellish space was lit by a solitary Coleman lantern that hissed from the bubbling lignite.
The room stank of rot; my gag reflexes were ready to jump the gate. I could barely make out a large rat in the far corner, nibbling on something fleshy. “Is that a finger?” I mused; I think I wanted to believe it’s a finger. Two hideous forms barely human and cloaked in ragged cowls stood over me; one holding the lantern raised, that I could witness a terror so cruel, I could barely accept what my eyes revealed.
For the other homunculus held a large part of my slippery entrails in his hands. They had drugged me (I assume, as I felt not a single twitch of pain) and slit open my abdominal cavity! Bizarre enough; but the topper was a tiny photo of My Arwyn, dangling from an intestinal loop.
And that is when I awoke, trembling and in a furious sweat.
“So whaddya think, Larky,” I finish, “is this an example of a recollection, or just your typical dumb nightmare?”
“Right on Zekester, that is most certainly an authentic recollection.”
“Now I know you’re pulling my tail; I have no scar on my belly!”
“And what a sweet belly that is, to kiss and tickle!” Arwyn teases. “Smoke and mirrors boy, smoke and mirrors,” he continues. “They doped you up and created this horrid hallucination. They did not gut you open, they did not remove your innards. That was all Hollywood trickery, special effects. Even the rat chewing on a, ummmm, ‘body part’ was not real; it was a cheap little electronic toy they purchased at an auction of stage props and costumes from old horror films like ‘Willard’ and ‘The Pit and the Pendulum’.”
“Who are ‘they‘, and what was the purpose of their stupid stunt?” I demand, as I hold the phone close to its cradle, ready to hang up. Instead, I put it on speaker and kick back in my cushioned swivel chair; I am feeling somewhat overwhelmed at this point.
“They are the same goons you warned me about in that aborted note you slipped under the wrong door,” Arwyn declares. “Their intent was to terrorize you, My Brave Boy. Terrorize you from ever wanting anything to do with me, again.” There is a pause and some static clicking on the line.
“But their mischief went wrong,” he continues. “You had an allergic reaction to the tampered horse tranquilizer they forced through your veins. They dumped you in that reservoir up by Twin Peaks Tower. An old man walking his Vietnamese potbelly pig found you, and called 911.”
Good heavens! I think, I thought that pet pig fad died out years ago!
“Ha ha, yeah, me too,” Arwyn chuckles.
“Wait a minute, I didn’t say anything, I was just thinking it!” I exclaim.
“Told you we’re telepathic; now you know it’s true.” Arwyn adds: “But let’s not stray so far from the real issue at hand: your memory and its restoration.”
A sudden “Aha!” ignites my mind like a cartoon lightbulb: “Are you suggesting my fantasy about you as a detective out of Orange County is actually a partial recollection?”
“You got it, pup. Congrats. I’m a detective, I’m your lover, and we got married in 2008, by the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, on Easter Sunday at Dolores Park. And today is Easter. You were invited to the celebration by a Sister you met at the City Health Clinic two days ago. [Dear Readers, don’t even ask.] Thus a partial memory of our own marriage, was triggered by the invitation.”
“Oh my gosh, Arwyn. This makes perfect sense,” I exclaim. “Explains so well why I’ve been cooking up various ways to propose to you, even after the anticipated marriage at Dolores Park did not pan out!”
Other revelations bubble up in my memory cells:
“So this Cult of the Disciples of the Zodiac Killer that I wrote about, is not a fantasy I conjured up to thrill my readers, but another growing recollection?”
“We first met at the Hole in the Wall, right?”
“Yessir. Go on, I need to see how your memory is progressing. This is a joyful occasion, for you have never before recalled the events you just brought up, since you were doped. Try to remember even more, My Beloved Little Dragon of the Fiery Spirit.”
I’m enthralled. If any of what Arwyn now tells me is the least bit true, then my life is taking a whole different turn into a reality far more beautiful and blessed than I could ever imagine (except for my tales, but they don’t count; or do they). I am eager to dig up old memories long forgotten, so I lean forward in my chair to repossess the phone and talk directly into the mouthpiece. This is just too compelling to keep Arwyn on speaker while I’m semi-reclined in a padded office chair.
Arwyn continues to explain how this cult’s nefarious attempt to frighten me away from My Beloved, almost succeeded. For it left me with frequent anxiety attacks in his presence (which previously, I always adored, and could never get enough of; in fact he often had to escort me out the door or another direction down the sidewalk ’cause I was simply mesmerized by his spirit and didn’t realize I was following him to places too dangerous for me to visit).
The cult had successfully implanted a deeply subconscious fear of My Best Buddy, thanks to their drug-induced black arts. This included certain elements of telepathy, where they inspired thoughts of hatred and fear about Arwyn, in my damaged brain now more like Swiss cheese than Provolone. These disciples of the Zodiac Killer would frequent the Hole in the Wall (and later, the Eagle Tavern on 12th and Harrison Streets) while I was there, and stand within earshot while feigning to talk with another nearby; and project their whispers of fear-memes into my ears, that would pass directly into my subconscious due to this subliminal impact.
Which explains why I often suffered waves of anxiety and fear in Arwyn’s presence (since the drugging); it created a sad distance between us, and made me cease my kind words and thoughts toward him. I even considered at times, moving to Portland or other parts reasonably liberal, in order to forget him; believing he was my biggest mistake ever. Fortunately (thank Dragon) I am now in a stage of rapid healing, and my love for Arwyn grows strong once more. Yet minor rough spots remain: flashes of anxiety that cause me to falter in trusting He Who Truly Loves Me Most in This World (and in any other world if you want to be frank about it).
Surely this must have been a grievous burden for Arwyn; yet he stands by me through thick and thin…but that is what marriage vows are all about, if the love is true. I can’t even imagine how much sorrow he bore, sitting by my sickbed at Intensive Care, his head on my chest, weeping and praying that I’d come through. Day after day, week after week, month after interminable month.
And you know, I did hear his sobs, his pleas to Goddess Herself and all Her Faithful Minions, from time to time when I emerged momentarily from deep coma into light trance. Though I could not speak, I could not move, I could not open my eyes or give any other outward sign that I hear him, that I love him back dearly. That I had no idea till then, how much this elegant human being adores me with all his heart, all his soul, all his life. It was during such grace-filled moments that I realized this Sweet Man’s Love has saved my wretched soul. And because of this I’d pull out of my coma with flying crullers, and everything would be alright…in fact, better than before. Much, much better. For I am finally in the arms of My Second True Love.
“Jeez Arwyn, we’ve been through a lot together, haven’t we?” I remark, after hearing this tale. A tale for which doubts still linger in my heart, for obvious reasons.
“You ain’t just whistlin’ Pixie!” He sounds sad, yet stolidly optimistic.
“Are you my guardian angel?” I have to ask, for he is so impossibly handsome and so impossibly sweet, this could only be a Dream’s Fulfillment.
“Arrrgh, girlfriend! Randolph’s the guardian angel in this novel. I am your guardian dragon who descended from the Lavender Skies of Avalon, to rescue you from These Wicked Sorcerors and bring you back to Randy T.”
Once more, a bolt of anxiety strikes me: “You’re not going to leave me then, are you? I love you now so much, I can’t bear to be without you. For you are the sweetest and most darling friend I have ever known!”
A weary sigh drifts from his cell phone to my land line. “There are some things we can’t have, Oh My Brother of Saint Valentine’s Wound. But my love? You shall always have that!”
“Then I don’t want Randolph, ever!” A steely commitment comes over me. “I don’t ever want Randolph, not without you, too.” Tears slide like rivulets down my face. “How could a loving goddess put me through yet more grief and tragedy?”
“I’m only pranking you, butt-wipe,” he exhorts. “Of course you will have us both! Don’t be such a drama queen, girlfriend!”
I dry what I can of my tears; they are too copious to do a complete job. The telephone receiver is quite drenched.
“Muthuh Fukkuh!” is all I can say, as my heart beats with joy, and my grievous tears morph into Elysium’s Wine.
“Asshole!” he replies with expedience.
A beautiful silence then graces the line that connects our souls to one another. As the blissful reverie slowly fades, I speak once more:
“So tell me this, Mr. Miles: if we are indeed married and so much in love, then why on Tinkerbell’s Tampon am I still living alone in this crummy hole in the wall?”
“As opposed to the excellent Hole in the Wall?” he quips.
“Okay, if you wanna put it that way: yes.” I then push the matter: “Makes no sense in my eye, why I continue to barely survive in this hovel with nasty diesel fumes and noise pollution flooding my space like a double plague of army ants and locusts. Not to mention my two south-facing windows that heat up this weary little monk’s cell into a Finnish sauna whenever the weather is even barely warm, and the air lies still.”
I rant on: “When it’s 80 degrees outside, it’s 90-plus in. Forget the really hot weather, when the mercury hits 90 or more! Causes me nausea, weakness, anxiety attacks, and god knows what other health problems. Clearly, I’m not a happy camper. And if you really do love me, how come you haven’t helped rectify this horrid situation? Like: why aren’t we living together?”
Not a peep out of Arwyn, but his Sweet Dragon Breath is audible.
And so I finish with: “I’m sure you have the perfect answer, just like you do for everything else I’ve asked so far. Give it your best shot, cowboy!”
Finally, the Great Gay Houdini Arwyn speaks: “Oh come on, Eugene, I’d buy you a jeep if I could, along with a castle in Scotland by Loch Ness, and all the handsome laddies you want!” He sighs. “We are both quite poor right now; and your memory of why we are has momentarily slipped. Allow me to explain, Oh Hummingbird of Paradise…and please, I beg Your Sweetest Soul: don’t hang up on me?”
So here are the very same words he spilled into my astonished ear, Oh Patient Reader (see next chapter):